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Child-Free by Choice: Gaining Acceptance … and Resistance
From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director
There are many reasons to choose not to have children. Some people are concerned about population pressure and the future of the planet. Others simply don’t want children. In recent years, social media influencers have been fighting the stigma around choosing to be child-free. And the Center for Biological Diversity has been bringing a film about the topic to college campuses.
But as the BBC points out, as the child-free community has grown, so has the backlash. People still face questions and criticism online — even from those closest to them — about their family-planning decisions. Until there’s wider acceptance for child-free lifestyles, those who choose them will struggle for true reproductive freedom.
Read on for the latest news on how population pressure and unsustainable consumption harm wildlife and what you can do to help.
On the 50th anniversary of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species — aka CITES — the Center and 49 other groups called for a renewed commitment to halting the extinction crisis. CITES is a global treaty that regulates wildlife trade, including by instituting a ban on commercial ivory sales to protect elephants.
The Outdoor Industry’s Wool Problem
Many people rely on wool clothing to enjoy the outdoors throughout the winter, believing they’re wearing quality gear that’s good for the environment. That’s no accident — the wool industry has worked hard to position wool as the “natural” and “sustainable” alternative to synthetic materials made from fossil fuels. But wool isn’t as sustainable as marketers say. From habitat degradation caused by grazing sheep to the chemicals used to process the fibers, wool production is riddled with threats to wildlife. And commercial wool is often blended with plastic fibers and coated in chemicals.
But there’s good news, too. Wool isn’t the only fiber that can keep you warm and dry. And materials like Tencel can even outperform wool. Check out my new article in Sierra magazine to learn more about how the outdoor industry and nature lovers can move toward truly sustainable clothing.
Here's one thing you can do: Tell eco-conscious brands to phase out or reduce wool and stay tuned for a new Center analysis, coming soon, on the clothing materials used by top brands.
Meat Reduction Necessary to Meet Climate Targets
Food-related emissions must decrease to help the planet avoid irreversible, catastrophic climate change. A new study found that food-related emissions alone will push us past global climate targets. More than half of those emissions come from meat and dairy production. Foods responsible for high amounts of methane account for 75% of food-related climate pollution, with beef being the worst culprit. But the study confirmed that we can still avoid a rise in these emissions if people in rich countries, like the United States, eat less meat and dairy.
Here’s one thing you can do: Punk rock inspires people to question the status quo — including our food system — and stand up to cruelty and injustice. This history laid a lot of groundwork for social justice and plant-based advocacy. Learn more in The Revelator’s interview with the musician Moby about his new film, Punk Rock Vegan Movie, which you can watch for free.
Pandemic Shopping’s Cost to Whales
Since December, 23 dead whales have washed up along the East Coast, including humpbacks, minke whales, and a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. A number of factors are causing an increase in whale deaths, like climate change affecting feeding and migration routes. But there’s also been a record-breaking surge in cargo ship traffic — and more ships means more ship strikes. This ocean-freight surge is fueled by online shopping and changes in shipping to alleviate pandemic-related supply-chain issues.
Here’s one thing you can do: Global consumption of fashion has increased by 400% over the past 20 years, with some fast-fashion companies doubling their sales during the pandemic. Learn more about the harms of fast fashion and how you can slow your style.
Climate Change Increases Human-Wildlife Conflict
From the ocean to the savannah, the climate crisis is increasing human-wildlife encounters, often with deadly consequences. New research found that studies linking climate to human-wildlife conflict had quadrupled over the past decade and involved all major wildlife groups, from mosquitoes to tigers. Changes in temperature and rainfall, especially, have driven both animal and human populations to expand their ranges to find food, water, and a healthy place to live. Unfortunately, as people and animals clash in previously uninhabited places, the result is frequently injury or death.
The climate crisis and population pressure amplify the harms they both cause as people and wildlife are forced into closer contact and more competition. Understanding human-wildlife conflicts can help prevent them, but we need to address the root causes.
Here’s one thing you can do: Tell President Biden to end the era of fossil fuels and stave off climate disaster.
Speak Up for Family Planning in Colorado
Federal funding for state family-planning programs dried up long before Roe v. Wade was overturned. Still, Colorado has made historic progress in expanding access to reproductive healthcare services. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Family Planning Program provides care at 80 clinics across the state, with a focus on rural communities. It supports the health and wellbeing of parents and children and empowers people to determine if and when they want to become pregnant, improving educational and financial outcomes.
But to continue meeting the need of Coloradans and ensure everyone has access to family planning, the program needs more funding.
Here’s one thing you can do: Take action with the Family Planning Access for All Colorado coalition to urge your legislators to invest in the program.
Wildlife Spotlight: Canada Lynx
Canada lynx are related to bobcats but have large, snowshoe-like paws to help them walk across deep snow. They also have tufted ears, hind legs that look longer than their front legs, and a pronounced goatee. Relying more on stealth than speed to hunt, they hunker down to wait for prey — primarily snowshoe hares — to come within pouncing distance.
Lynx have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 2000, so it’s illegal to trap them on purpose. But in Minnesota, in addition to facing pervasive threats like habitat destruction and climate change, many lynx are caught in traps set for other wildlife. There may be only 50 lynx left in the state. Following a Center lawsuit calling for trapping reforms, a federal judge recently tightened the ban on most uses of strangulation snares and other traps in northeastern Minnesota.
Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710
Tucson, AZ 85702